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5/20/03 - IRANIAN PRESIDENT IN LEBANON - 2003-05-20

On a three-day visit to Lebanon, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami was greeted by top officials of the Lebanese government and representatives of Hezbollah. Khatami condemned Islamic fanaticism and the Riyadh suicide bombings while in Lebanon, but his pledge of continued support for Hezbollah underscores Iran’s support for international terrorism.

Based in Lebanon, Hezbollah is one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world. Among the atrocities it has committed against civilians, Hezbollah is suspected in the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed nearly one-hundred people.

Hezbollah takes its ideological inspiration from the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first ruler of Iran’s repressive theocracy. Hezbollah receives financial support, weapons, and other aid from Iran. It also receives support from Syria. One of Hezbollah’s goals is the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah slogans, including “Death to Israel,” were played over a loudspeaker at Beirut airport when Khatami arrived.

On May 13th, Iranian President Khatami appeared with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at a large rally of Shia Muslims. Nasrallah’s continuing promotion of terrorism was made clear in a speech he gave several months ago in Lebanon encouraging Palestinians “to take suicide bombings worldwide.” Yet, at the rally, President Khatami strongly praised Hezbollah.

The U.S. is leading a global campaign against terrorists and their sponsors. As President George W. Bush has said, “The allies of terror are equally guilty of murder and equally accountable to justice.” This is becoming increasingly clear to people in the Muslim world, said Mr. Bush:

“When terrorists and tyrants resist and attack freedom, they are resisting and attacking the hopes of Muslims everywhere. When terrorists go on missions of suicide and murder, they defile the high ethical teachings of Islam itself.”

The terrorists and their sponsors will be stopped.